Lucy is getting old.
Lucy was not a kitten when I adopted her eight years ago. She was found in the woods missing some teeth, so the veterinarian who first looked at her said she must be an elderly cat. A second vet said she was a young cat, mysteriously missing teeth. I will never how old she is.
Lucy was deaf when I adopted her. She had a terrible infestation of ear mites and they had eaten through her ear drums. It took almost a year at the animal shelter before Lucy was well enough to be adopted. The animal shelter had a calendar made. Lucy was “Miss April.” But Miss April stayed long past April and no one had wanted to adopt this tiny deaf cat with the missing teeth until I met her.
Lucy has always had sinus trouble. Since she lost her ear drums it is impossible to cure her sinus infection. It used to get better and worse. Now it is mostly worse. It used to be that antibiotics would clear it up when it got especially bad. Now the antibiotics do not seem to have much effect. I still give them to her, periodically. I fill a syringe with the milky-white medicine and shoot it down her throat. Lucy used to fight this, but now she has gotten used to it. I stroke her chin when I do it and she purrs.
Lucy sleeps most of the time. She likes to find a sunny spot. She sleeps on my clothes if I leave any out. Lucy sheds a lot so I try to put my clothes away. When I come home from school, Lucy is always fast asleep. Because she is deaf, she does not know when I get home until I gently touch her. Her eyes pop open then and she starts to purr.
Lucy doesn’t tear around the room like she used to. She still likes to travel and cannot bear to be left alone. But, once she knows that I am in the room with her, she falls back to sleep. Sleeping is her favorite thing to do now.
Lucy has stopped grooming almost altogether. Her fur is getting matted. When I try to wash her face she bats my hand away and then begins to purr.
“Stop bothering me,” she says, “I am way past worrying what I look like.”
It’s hard to watch Lucy’s accelerated lifespan play out before my eyes. I know that, for a cat found half-dead in the woods eight years ago, Lucy has had a pretty good life. I know that, despite the sneezing and sniffling, she is content today.
But last night I woke to the sound of her labored breathing. The congestion was so bad that she was having trouble drawing breath. The medicine is not working much at all these days and I have run out of new medicines to try. I lay in bed and listened to her wheeze and gasp.
This morning she is better; her breathing is easier. The sun shone through the east window and she found a patch of sunshine on the bed and fell asleep. I went over to her and rubbed her face, she lifted her chin high in the air, the way she always does.
“Don’t leave me Lucy,” I said, “don’t leave me just yet.”
Lucy purred and stretched her paws. She tucked her tail beneath her and sighed. She didn’t look like she was in a hurry to go anywhere, not just yet.
Till next time,